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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Faux Lasagna

It has been eons since I bought a boxed ground beef helper.  Why?  These types of convenience foods are expensive for what you get and the are laden with food additives.  I checked a box for the ingredients at the grocery store the other day.  Most contain maltodextrin (a corn sugar that is highly addictive creating cravings for it), monosodium glutamate (triggers headaches and allergic reactions), modified milk ingredients, natural flavour (could be anything!) and if the product has cheese, the cheese is dried.  A pasta based helper perhaps has a cup of dried pasta, the seasoning packet and you provide the meat and liquid at a cost of more than four times the cost of dried pasta bought on sale and adding your own fresh ingredients and cheese.  I have several versions of homemade ground meat helper, all fresh and easily prepared in about the same time it takes to prepare a boxed version AND they eliminate the cost of the boxed mix along with all the additives.

faux lasagna casserole
Even if you use a boxed ground beef helper you have to brown the ground beef.  I have found I can make the actual convenient dry mix for about a quarter of the price of store bought but I can also make the entire casserole from scratch in pretty much the same time at a quarter of the price as well.

The other day, I made a faux lasagna casserole using 2 lb of lean ground beef.  It had a lovely flavour, very much like lasagna without the work.  Quite frankly, I don't find lasagna a lot of work even making the sauce from scratch but I wanted a quick meal that night.

Faux Lasagna
source: Garden Gnome

2 lb lean ground beef
2 c broad egg noodles
2 c shredded mozarella cheese
½ c shredded cheddar cheese
¼ c cottage cheese
1 c shredded Parmesan cheese (divided)
1 L (4 c) roasted Italian garden sauce with mushrooms

Brown the ground beef and drain.  Cook and drain the pasta.  Pour ground beef into a large mixing bowl.  Pour the sauce over the meat. Mix well.  Stir in the pasta then all the cheese reserving ½ c of the Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  Pour into oven proof baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.  Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes or until warmed through and bubbly.

faux lasagna
This homemade faux lasagna casserole took 5 minutes longer prep time and 3 minutes longer cooking time than the boxed version.   I didn't factor in the time it takes to bring the boxed version to a boil though so in terms of timing the homemade version was really quite close to the boxed version.  However, I ended up with a less expensive and tastier dish than the boxed version.  The homemade version not only eliminated all the food additives, it was lower in sodium as well.  Unlike the boxed version, I didn't have to take time to stir occasionally either freeing up that time to do other things.

The proof is in the taste and hands down this faux lasagna is a winner.   It is rich, creamy and cheesy sure to satisfy any lasagna craving in short order.  I usually use 7 to 9 cheeses in my homemade lasagna but this recipe only had 4 cheeses.  The mozzarella cheese could easily be reduced to 1 c then add in another cup of any desired cheese.  Over all though, this was a very nice casserole!

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